The Penguin English Library Edition of The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad 'Madness and despair! Give me that for a lever, and I'll move the world' In the only novel Conrad set in London, The Secret Agent communicates a profoundly ironic view of human affairs. The story is woven around an attack on the Greenwich Observatory in 1894 masterminded by Verloc, a Russian spy working for the police, and ostensibly a member of an anarchist group in Soho. His masters instruct him to discredit the anarchists in a humiliating fashion, and when his evil plan goes horribly awry, Verlac must deal with the repercussions of his actions. The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction written in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels, to the beginning of the First World War.